For my birthday this year, my family got me a book about Pittsford called “Reflections on Big Spring: A History of Pittsford, NY and the Genesee River Valley” by David McNellis. It’s a wildly comprehensive book that spans 40,000 BC through the mid 20th century, and I haven’t even finished it yet. But what I have found are some incredible photographs courtesy of Paul M. Spiegel—the same Paul M. Spiegel who was Town Supervisor from 1966-1987 and the namesake for the Spiegel Community Center. His family owned Spiegel’s Wagon Shop near the Four Corners and he has a truly amazing collection of Pittsford photographs. Should you be interested in seeing more, he’s created five volumes of “Pittsford Scrapbooks” which can be purchased at the Pittsford Town Hall and at The Little House (he donates all proceeds to the Pittsford Historical Society) or online.
My favorites of these images showcase a walkable, bikeable, or horse drawn carriage-able Pittsford—a time presumably before there was much worry about speed limits on our neighborhood streets.
Without further ado…please take a stroll into Pittsford of the past. Some things are identical—gorgeous historic buildings at the heart of our village. Some things have changed greatly—some street widths and green spaces. And some things I am left pining over a little—a small grocer in the village, a drug store, and a hardware store all within easy walking and biking distance!
One of my favorites is this image of State Street, looking west towards the Four Corners. The Wiltsie and Crump building (center) is still there, as is the Parker Building (left). But notice how narrow State St is and the small, grassy triangular park that was adjacent to the Phoenix Hotel and State Street for a hundred years, according to McNellis. It was removed in the 1920s. Imagine if that much space at the Four Corners was still given to people instead of vehicles.
Like a true Western New Yorker, I love Wegmans, but I often say that if we had a small grocer, or even a convenience store in the village, I would never need to leave—or at least I wouldn’t need to brave Pittsford Plaza parking when I just need some flour! For those who may not have been around 50+ years ago, Burdett’s was the grocer that served the village for 55 years and it was known for its old fashioned neighborly service—according to McNellis, children from local families could stop by after school to pick up an item or two and just “put it on [the family] account.”
These images show that Pittsford once had a Department store and drug stores too. I would love to have a pharmacy in the village today.
And some things never change—look at that snow!
See anything you like from yesteryear? If you have any personal memories of these places or have family members who do, please let us know in the comments!